Enjoying the journey: quick updates as transitions continue

As I attempt to prepare myself for possibly the busiest few weeks of the year, I decided to productively procrastinate on my other writing assignments by sharing a quick update on what appears to be a long-neglected blog. I believe there are two primary reasons for the neglect:
1 – I was doing a LOT of writing for my residency and in large part, I simply did not want to do any writing in my “down” time or for fun
2 – Much of what I was processing was so intense it was hard to share in a public forum in an appropriate way (including respecting privacy, etc.)

At the end I was so tranformed, and graduation was a proud, happy time. Here is our class graduation photo:

IMG_1860.JPG

I do hope to look back on my residency and reflect on the year of learning at some point. For now, I will say that the year was extremely intense at times, and was exactly what I needed to affirm my calling to pastoral care and chaplaincy and to identify my strengths and growing edges in ministry and work on both lists (even managed transferred a few from the growing column over to the strengths). I also the many diverse and gifted individuals I worked with both directly and indirectly during my time at Mayo, Rochester.

So, today?

Today I am back in Dubuque, and we actually moved back at the very end of July (I returned to Rochester August 7th for my formal graduation for the residency program), and after a bringing the moving truck in on Sunday the 27th (after Shawn’s last internship preaching services), I started working as a chaplain at Mercy Medical Center in Dubuque on Monday morning July 28th. Life has been a whirlwind of transition in the near month since that morning.

In the midst of that whirlwind I am thankful for my family an friends that help anchor me and often are the presence of God and reminder of God’s grace.

Today I also realized that my participation at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Dubuque will be extremely centering for me this year, and was something I missed last year as I was so often at the hospital on weekends (that should rarely be the case this year). I am also doing my required congregational field work at HTLC, and I look forward to experiencing ministry from within the congregational context.

Now, I have a few papers to (finish) writing prior to prolog week … a week and a day count down …

And as returning to some of my daily spiritual practices has also been a challenge since the move I will begin here with one of my quick gratitude lists to motivate this daily intentional practice to … um, again become daily (personal) and frequent (public) …

At this moment I am grateful for:
wifi and water
central air conditioning that works
my husband, my life partner on this journey
my amazing daughters
the Dubuque Sat. Farmers Market
No more long commute to work!!!!!
Amazing classmates
Gifted co-workers
God’s loving grace and Holy Spirit that guides me through each day

IMG_1147.JPG

Advertisements

Today was an awesome, inspirational, meaningful, satisfying and exhausting day of work! Even though it is my short day :)

This is a little something I wrote quickly on my phone micro journaling app and realized I might want to more publicly reflect on this (& similar) experience here in the future, so I am sharing it as a snapshot in time regarding my reactions to chaplaincy and how I am continuing to find meaning this year.

Fridays post Thursday night call are always challenging. This morning when unit rounds started it seemed it was going to be one of those mornings I would just need to get through while looking forward to my weekend off starting with leisurely work out time this afternoon before catching the bus home. Thankfully I was wrong.

The unit was busy & a bit chaotic this morning as there were up to 9 possible discharges, and 4 new admits to transition during morning rounds (knowing with more d/c than admits that Monday we’ll walk into a full unit likely with transfers in from all over the state). Add to that a few last minute staffing changes and I admit my own personality preferences for small groups & predictability was being challenged (INFJ for Meyers Briggs fans) … I had to decide how to deal with those challenges and make a difference rather than just put in my time.

I decided that as much as I appreciate learning from the medical team during walking rounds, and there is benefit to my own ministry in being present as part of the team, it wasn’t the most effective way I could spend the morning today. Since I had several patients I had worked intensely with for an extended period discharging, I decided to start there. In one case I managed to time in sync with rounds (meeting one on one before & after).

Then while charting and attempting to prioritize my next possible visits (including listening as teams went in & out from rounding, ran through partial lists, etc.) I was able to take advantage of being in the right place at the right time. Being there for an immediate referral may have made the difference between my having this opportunity or it being passed to the on call chaplain after I was gone for the day. That is speculation, but I am certain that being integrated into the unit and part of the team made a difference. Although I smiled wondering what was coming next when the Dr. turned toward me & said “we need God” I was also humbled in being able to respond as the needed presence at the time for this patient.

Although I have always felt very welcome as part of the acute psych team, any referrals have been a little less acute (at least from an outward perspective). Later both the Doctor and the lead nurse for the team specifically went out of their way to thank me. It was both interesting and profound to experience that gratitude outside of the context of a patient death (I am becoming used to how just my presence relieves anxiety in those situations).

Although I of course cannot share specifics the visit touched on something that I think will be a common theme / need in my chaplain/ministry work. (I may write about the issue in general in the future). And interestingly enough I was aware of a continue ing Ed presentation starting at noon today on a very related topic. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go on my afternoon off … Until the end of this morning! Then it was perfect timing really.

Thankfully I still managed to fit in a quick 30 minute aerobic intense workout before rushing to catch the early bus home to my family.

I feel like on one side of this journey I have the blessing of my ministry time, those I minister to and with affirming my call and renewing my strength, and on the other side I have my beautiful and encouraging family always sending me off & welcoming me home with love & joy in all that I/we are. And through it all God’s loving presence to sustain me.

Sometimes it really is about showing up.

now hopefully I will be inspired to write more here

Settling into Harmony & my chaplaincy residency

Today it is raining and coolish and feels like fall.

It also feels like we are here living, working, MINISTERING … We are not so much in transition now, but rather we simply ARE. We are as settled into our home in Harmony, MN as we are likely to be this year. At this point I consider it an accomplishment to not think about the next move (back to Dubuque for our final seminary year at Wartburg), and to instead simply be and live in each moment. It is equally an accomplishment not to be obsessed about my future calling in ministry — to set aside the questions about what type of institution I could best use my particular “chaplain gifts” and to simply exist in this present moment and give that gift to those around me, and to myself.

Shawn has settled into his pastor internship here in the Harmony area, and thankful finds it energizing. Nessa has settled into 3rd grade at her new school and we thankfully hear very few complaints, fear, etc. And I thankfully find a new appreciation for my time at Mayo almost every day.

Mayo Clinic, and its hospitals, is a unique place to minister for many reasons including both the diversity of individuals that come to Mayo and the diverse hospital units one can minister on. The site is also unique in my experience in that there are still protestant chaplain-led worship services each Sunday. All of this and more works together to create a unique culture as well as unique opportunities for ministry. I am thankful to be a part of this … To be here in this place and time.

Although some days I can’t help thinking it would have been nice to be led here when I was younger and could go without sleep easier … I especially think this on my post-call days. Leading worship in two chapels after being on-call all night is certainly a unique challenge. Yet, even on days when I am tired or when chronic pain flares in one way or another (more often than I would like this fall), I realize that it is only now that I am prepared to use the gifts given to me by God to be fully present with others in their pain, grief, doubts AND hopes (there is much hope here) … To listen, to offer the few words that come to me, to give voice to scripture, to pray AND to BE.

Love and belief,
Tami

Summer 2012 (our family does CPE)

This is a quick reference update to let anyone that has missed it know what our family is up to this summer as well as document it when we look back on it after we survive it. 🙂 Ideally, I will also be able to share a bit of reflection on the experience during and after the summer as well. One thing I will be doing, so that the blog doesn’t go completely quiet during my very busy summer is sharing (through posts scheduled to posts every so often throughout the next couple of months) some of the assignments that I wrote during my first year at Wartburg Seminary. I thought that would help give some theological perspective for those of different faiths reading this as well as give others that may be following our journey (but not be a part of our Wartburg Community, etc.) a sense of what we do in some of our classes … and again it will be good for me to have it hear as another places some of this writing is gathered.

So, this summer?

Well, BOTH Shawn and I are completing our Summer Clinical Pastoral Experience (CPE). I am at Gundersen Lutheran Medical Center in La Crosse, WI, and Shawn is at Mayo Health System in Rochester, MN. We are thankfully able to stay at my parents farm (located between the Nodine and Houston exists on I90 in MN), so that we can, when not on-call, be together as a family in the evenings and morning and just go our separate ways on I90 as we head to our respective medical centers each day. We began right after Memorial day and are still getting a sense of how the rhythm of the summer will go as a family. Nessa misses her Wartburg Community friends (and simply her home there), and yet is appreciating more time to hang out with grandparents, cousins and her big sisters. For the most part Shawn and I are simply happily exhausted, and don’t have time or energy for much else.

The CPE experience consists of 400 hours plus orientation time. We work as Chaplain interns and also participate in educational components regarding pastoral care work in a way that is set up as “action and reflection.” Much of what we learn is very practical, and yet much of what we learn is emotional and individualized to what we need to learn as we are there. In part we are learning to get ourselves out of the way as we help others … and well a lot more too, but I’m only about a week into this. So, far I know it is going to be intense and challenging … and I’m hoping I love it more than I want to run and curl up in the corner!

Our CPE assignments go through August 10th, so after that we’ll have a bit of time to catch our breath before settling back into our routine in Dubuque for our 2nd year at Wartburg, but not much as we have some work that will be do for our candidacy process as well).

In the meantime between our weekly CPE work schedule and our on-call schedules, we may not have as much time as we would like to be in community (virtual or real) with all of you, yet I will be holding you in my heart each day. (Also, we do not have Internet access at the farm where we are living, so that also limits some practical communication.)

Prayers are appreciated during this challenging time in our lives.

Love and belief,
Tami